There’s positive news out for people who like to eat good food but fret over adding extra pounds as they get older. A new Spanish study suggests people who stick to a Mediterranean-style diet may be able to avoid the added pounds linked to aging.
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“This dietary pattern can be recommended to slow down age-related weight gain,” says the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It notes that eating a Mediterranean diet “is significantly associated with reduced weight gain.”
The Mediterranean diet is rich in nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. Another recent study suggests older people who adhere to the Mediterranean food regimen may face a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These same older people may not have to worry about counting calories or losing pounds.
The newest study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition focuses on younger people who ate a Mediterranean diet.
"The question we wanted to answer was: What is the effect of the Mediterranean dietary pattern among young, non-obese, healthy people? And we found it is a convenient dietary pattern since it slows down the weight gain normally observed with age," Juan-Jose Beunza of the University of Navarra told Reuters Health in an e-mail.
The study followed 10,376 Spanish men and women with an average age of 38. The researchers tracked the participants for about six years. The participants also filled out a questionnaire about their eating patterns and had their weight checked twice a year.
The average participants put on about half a pound a year. But those with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean diet packed on the most weight, while those who stuck to the diet showed the lowest weight gain.
According to Reuters, the Mediterranean eaters were 10% less likely to become overweight or obese by the end study’s conclusion.
They also faced 24% lower odds of adding more than 11 pounds over the study's first four years.
Iris Shai of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University told Reuters that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are likely to be more satiated by the typical meal’s high fiber content. These people, he noted, typically eat fewer "empty calories."
"This study suggests that adherence to healthy dietary patterns are the key factor for avoiding the natural long-term yearly weight gain occurring during adulthood," Shai, who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters in an e-mail.
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